“... I rather think that archives exist to keep things safe – but not secret.” – Kevin Young
This project is an ongoing endeavor to develop a Guide to Resources for students, scholars, and community members interested in Florida’s cultural heritage. With my focus on institutions that collect and preserve Florida’s rich and diverse history, I began with the four southeastern counties: Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. I will continue with other counties, adding lists of institutions and blogs, as time permits.
The idea for the Florida Cultural Resources site came about after I participated in a SEFLIN (Southeast Florida Library Information Network) digitization grant project for the Greater North Miami Historical Society collection. I was amazed at the breadth of this collection, and the fact that it was stored, with very limited access, in the basement of North Miami City Hall. There were thousands of historic photographs and documents dating back to the early 1900s when the City of North Miami was incorporated. This great slice of history, reflecting a time of significant development in Miami, was pretty much hidden from its community and researchers.
I became intrigued: how many more organizations like this existed in Florida, rich in cultural history, but little known? Did an online listing of historical and cultural organizations exist for those interested in learning about their community’s history? I found only one resource for Florida: the Florida Archives and Manuscripts Repositories, published by University of Central Florida, listing Florida archives and manuscript repositories. In my Guide I want to focus on any type of organization with collections reflecting local history, including historical and cultural museums. I am also writing blogs, found on the Home page, about the unique history and stories of some of these communities.
Similar to the work of public humanities and local history, I believe learning and understanding our past enhances our understanding of the present. I hope this site encourages and provides opportunities for students and community members to learn of Florida’s diverse heritage. And that the blogs will pique the interest of students searching for a research topic, giving them the opportunity to work with primary source materials.
I am grateful to Florida International University for the Professional Development Leave that awarded me the time to work on this project. And a special thanks to retired FIU librarian, Susan Weiss, for her Miami Bibliography and her generous sharing of time and knowledge of South Florida history.
Rita M. Cauce
Florida International University